20 Apr 2018 Spa Business Handbook
 

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Spa Business Handbook - Generation Next

North America Research

Generation Next


ISPA’s latest Consumer Snapshot survey looks at American millennials and their spa-going habits. Leonor Stanton investigates

Leonor Stanton
More than half of millennials surveyed have visited a spa in the past 12 months, but the majority have been less than five times in total shutterstock_By Dasha Petrenko
Most millennial women prefer to book their spa appointments by phone rather than book online shutterstock_By Peter Bernik
More male spa-going millennials have had a manicure or pedicure than not, and 59 per cent say they’ve had a facial shutterstock
Not being familiar with a spa environment is a major concern for non-spa-going millennials shutterstock

The seventh Consumer Snapshot survey, commissioned by the International Spa Association (ISPA) in 2016, focused on the US millennial generation – born between 1980 and 1997 – which represents more than one in four Americans.

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) carried out the online survey, achieving 1,018 responses representative of the regional distribution of the relevant age group – and not targeting spa-goers specifically.

The report concludes that the findings provide “striking evidence that millennials are a huge reservoir of demand for US spas” given that, for the first time in ISPA’s Consumer Snapshot surveys, “spa-goers outnumber non-spa-goers … with 56 per cent of the millennials surveyed stating they have visited a spa in the past 12 months.” Although already an important market for spas, the vast majority (83 per cent) of millennial spa-goers are “infrequent” visitors – meaning that they visit a spa fewer than five times a year.

Who are millennial spa-goers?
Women represent 54 per cent of this spa-going demographic, while 46 per cent are men. The majority – 64 per cent – are between 25 and 35 years of age, with 34 per cent in the 17 to 25-year bracket. The highest proportion – 62 per cent – lives in the Southwest region of the US.

Spa-goers are more likely to be in employment than non-spa goers (64 per cent versus 52 per cent) and spa-goers are also more likely than non-spa-goers to have a college degree (63 per cent versus 48 per cent).

Male versus female spa-goers
According to the survey, millennial women are more likely to visit a salon spa, while millennial men appear to prefer resort spas or those located within a fitness facility. This correlates with the fact that 21 per cent of male (compared with 9 per cent of female) respondents to the survey said that the key reason for their most recent trip to a spa was to “recover from injury/illness or to soothe sore joints/muscles”. Equally, to “improve my appearance”, “reduce/relieve stress” and “treat myself/indulge” were much more important motivators to women than men.

According to the researchers, the statistics from this study “certainly suggest that the millennial man is out to debunk some of the traditional stereotypes around spa treatments … While manicure and pedicure treatments may have traditionally been seen as the domain of females, this survey rejects that assertion, with more male spa-going millennials claiming to have had a manicure or pedicure (52 per cent) than not (48 per cent). Similarly, well over half (59 per cent) of male respondents state they have had a facial at a spa.”

Corresponding with men’s desire to “recover from injury/illness or to soothe sore joints/muscles”, they are more likely than women to opt for hydrotherapy (43 per cent, versus 28 per cent for women), aromatherapy (51 per cent, versus 43 per cent for women) and a body scrub/wrap (54 per cent, versus 46 per cent).

Millennial males are more likely than females to book their spa appointments online – 29 per cent of men, compared with 20 per cent of women. Men are also more likely to book via social media – 11 per cent, compared with 3 per cent. Millennial women say they prefer to book their appointments either by telephone (49 per cent) or in person (14 per cent).

Millennials and technology
The report authors state that “the data behind this study suggests that millennials are a tech-savvy generation who use [technology] to enhance and simplify their daily lives.” Some 80 per cent of those surveyed agreed that “technology helps me manage tasks more easily”, 71 per cent agreed that “technology leaves a positive footprint on my life”, 68 per cent agreed that technology “improves my overall quality of life”, 63 per cent said they kept their phone close-by all day, and 52 per cent felt they were “connected to technology 24/7”. That is in line with what one would expect from the 17 to 35 age group.

Yet, there are interesting differences between spa-goers and non-spa-goers. On the whole, non-spa-goers find technology less stressful and enjoy using technology more than spa-goers (see Graph 2).

Online engagement
In accordance with this, the survey found that the Internet shopping phenomenon has not infiltrated the spa industry to the same degree as other industries. Further, overall, 40 per cent of spa-goers within this demographic prefer to book their spa appointments by phone, compared with 24 per cent who book online. According to ISPA president Lynne McNees, “booking via phone – or in person – gives you more options to customise your requests, ask questions and explore all available options.”

The Consumer Snapshot survey concludes that, although millennials’ “love for technology is alive and well”, it’s surprising they – especially female spa-goers – are not engaging with spas online a great amount. According to the study, “if the industry is to continue to diversify, perhaps this is something to re-evaluate as spas endeavour to keep pace with millennials’ increasingly important wants and needs.”

Indeed, spas should explore how they can enable spa-goers to obtain more information online and “customise” varying requests to a greater extent than is currently possible. Nevertheless, for some spa experiences, it is likely there will always be a need for human, individual, customised, professional advice. Upselling is certainly easier on a one-to-one basis, where the needs and wants of the customer can be explored in detail. Spas should provide customers with both – equally flexible – options.

Lessons for spas
The survey looked at why non-spa-goers do not use spas and why the majority (83 per cent) of millennial spa-goers visit a spa less than five times a year and are classified as “infrequent users”.

Cost is the top reason both non-spa-goers and spa-goers give for not visiting or not visiting frequently, and is particularly important to women – both non-spa-goers and spa-goers. Time is the second most important reason given. These two reasons are consistent with the findings of previous studies.

Perhaps spas could consider even greater use of yield management? Reducing prices at quiet times might attract a wider audience and, potentially, boost the frequency of visits. Many spas have already introduced shorter treatments and selling times, rather than specific treatments, thus addressing the “lack of time” concern. Since these are consistent concerns, spas might want to explore other ways to address them.

The survey separated “not comfortable visiting a spa” and “not familiar with a spa environment and/or spa etiquette”, which have been grouped together in Table 1. This is clearly a major concern for non-spa-goers. The researchers noted that, since it is mainly men who feel uncomfortable visiting spas, “the industry would do well to address how millennial men perceive visiting spas … breaking down some of the myths and misconceptions around [the experience]”.

It’s not just men who feel “not familiar” or “not comfortable” visiting spas: it’s a factor cited relatively highly by all millennial categories. This needs to be addressed by spas in their marketing, information and customer service and should be considered in tandem with spas’ technology strategy. The researchers conclude that this “could potentially open up an untapped spring of new patrons who were previously less keen on going to a spa.”

Further feedback
The survey also sought views on what might enhance the spa experience and encourage greater levels of visitation. The availability of refreshments was cited most frequently – by 51 per cent of men and 53 per cent of women. Complimentary wifi came second – mentioned by 32 per cent of men and 26 per cent of women. The desire for wifi, according to McNees, “is an area that has grown recently as the role of technology continues to expand in the spa experience.” An online treatment booking option was requested by 14 per cent of men and 17 per cent of women. Yet, alongside these technological requests, 10 per cent of men and 8 per cent of women want tech-free zones within spas. Personalised treatment programmes were cited by about 25 per cent of respondents. Other requests included free toiletries, showering areas, contemplation rooms and waiting areas.

These findings and lessons are worth considering given that millennials, as McNees says, “will soon become the principal consumers of spa products and services, and catering to their wants and desires will be as important as ever.”

Graph 1:

Treatments experienced - millennials

*Source: 2016 ISPA Consumer Snapshot
 


Graph 2:

Technology in spa

*Source: ISPA Consumer Snapshot Survey 2016.
 


Table 1:

Reasons for not visiting spas, or for visiting spas infrequently

 




Who are millennial spa-goers?
women 54% men 46%

52% of millennial spa-going men say they’ve had a manicure or pedicure

59% of millennial spa-going men say they’ve had a facial

40% of millennial spa-goers prefer to book their spa appointments by phone

Just 24% of millennial spa-goers book online, including 29% of men and 20% of women

Millennials who book their spa appointments via social media 11% of men 3% of women

85% of millennial spa-goers visit a spa less than five times a year

What would enhance millennials spa experience?
Refreshments 51% of men and 53% of women

complimentary wifi 32% of men and 26% of women

complimentary toiletries 17% of men and 28% of women

tech-free zones 10% of men and 8% of women


About the author:

 

Leonor Stanton
 

Leonor Stanton is an independent hospitality and spa consultant specialising in market and commercial assessments and financial planning worldwide. She also heads up spa consulting for Salon Hospitality Consulting and has previously worked for Deloitte Consulting and Deloitte Corporate Finance.

email: lstanton@spabusiness.com

Tel: +598 95 59 88 54



Originally published in Spa Business Handbook 2017 issue 1

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